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City exodus

Messages
124
Points
6
Here in the DC metro, most people can work and live outside the city with ease. Other than sightseeing and some mild nightlife, there's no real reason to go downtown, and there is definitely not much incentive to live in the city. From reading these boards, it sounds like this situation is developing in many big cities across the U.S. So I'm curious - what cities do you think can survive the exodus? In 20 years, what big cities will still be charming and comfortable to live and work in? Why?

My initial thought is Boston could survive mostly because how many universities it has and the youthful feel they give the city. Let me know what you think.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
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51
WOW!!! Now that is a Planner Question. I think that if a city can change, adapt, and improve it’s self to continue to attract a younger generation of people to replace it’s current workforce, then not only can it survive it can thrive. BUT if a city only relies on it current industry, only does things “because that is the way it has always been done”, and does little to nothing to try to market it self as an exciting, interactive yet charming place to live, not only will it fail, the buildings will topple to ruins, and people will leave in mass amounts.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,216
Points
29
valhallan said:
So I'm curious - what cities do you think can survive the exodus? In 20 years, what big cities will still be charming and comfortable to live and work in? Why?
What do you mean by "survive"? Detroit has been surviving a 50 year exodus and it still has places that are charming and comfortable to live and work in. Urban utopias vary - they can dissappoint in some ways and delight in others.

michaelskis said:
BUT if a city only relies on it current industry, only does things “because that is the way it has always been done”, and does little to nothing to try to market it self as an exciting, interactive yet charming place to live, not only will it fail, the buildings will topple to ruins, and people will leave in mass amounts.
Can you cite some specific examples? I'm particularly interested in the the buildings will topple to ruins part. I can only think of ancient Rome. Anything more current?
 
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Maister

Chairman of the bored
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28,700
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71
That's a pretty big question and one worthy of an entire generation of planners' best efforts. I guess the short answer would be something like "the big cities that will be doing well 20 years from now will be those those that most intelligently allocate resources to preserve what is currently working best in its' communities and anticipates most accurately what future economic and social trends that will affect them in coming years"
Different cities are at different stages of the 'exodus' you reference and some are affected more and others are affected less depending on numerous factors that impact both on a macro and micro level (e.g. transportation networks, population demographics, reliance on 'smokestack industries'....the list goes on).

On the other hand, if you were just asking us to make a list of the cities that we think will be doing well in 20 years. I would agree that Boston would make my short list as well as Chicago and San Francisco. All of the above face some pretty serious problems but IMHO appear to be doing what the first paragraph calls for reasonably well.
 
Messages
124
Points
6
Wanigas? said:
What do you mean by "survive"? Detroit has been surviving a 50 year exodus and it still has places that are charming and comfortable to live and work in. Urban utopias vary - they can dissappoint in some ways and delight in others.
I basically mean what cities will be able to maintain their downtown commercial centers. DC's never really had much of one anyway, but the commercial centers are almost totally in the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs now. So I want to know what cities you think will continue to have a liveable and thriving downtown area, not one crippled by suburban development.

My initial thought was Boston because those universities aren't going anywhere and should help the city attract people and business to the downtown forever. This question came to me mostly because I'd like to find a big city where I can live and work in a thriving town center like you would in a smaller city, but still have the international airport, sports arenas, and other ammenities only larger cities have.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
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29
Is DC really declining that badly? I have read in boosterish press that the City is in fact turning itself around. Given the mobility problems/freeway congestion and the horrible quality of the built environment in the suburban counties, which area will really have the long term viability? (I am a UVa Graduate-and from what I observed, suburban Washington is almost as bad in built environment quality as new suburban California can be :) )
 
Messages
124
Points
6
BKM said:
Is DC really declining that badly? I have read in boosterish press that the City is in fact turning itself around. Given the mobility problems/freeway congestion and the horrible quality of the built environment in the suburban counties, which area will really have the long term viability? (I am a UVa Graduate-and from what I observed, suburban Washington is almost as bad in built environment quality as new suburban California can be :) )
I may have a slanted perspective. I live in the 'burbs and find them to be more than adequate. To me, the only thing DC offers that they don't are the historic monuments, but you see them once or twice and that's all you need. The city has high housing costs, high crime, and for me, too few attractions.

I see Northern Virginia being viable in the future simply because of Dulles International Airport and the technology corridor that's sprung up around it. Plus the Fairfax County school district is supposedly one of the best in the country.

But anyway, DC is a city built on government, and I guess it's good for that. I really just want some dang skyscrapers!!! :)
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
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24
I don't think it's a question of whether cities will survive the exodus; most of them already have, to varying degrees -- DC included. Most of the major East Coast/Midwest cities have already bottomed out and have been on a slow but steady incline for a few years. New York, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, DC; Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis -- all have had new commercial development in their downtowns that have brought tourism dollars, and new residential development that have brought many new residents. They may never be as big or as dominant politically or socially as they were 50 years ago, but more and more people will settle there, drawn by their uniquely urban amenities.

The real question is how DC's (or any city's) suburbs will survive their exodus, as people choose to either move further out from the city, or closer in. The built environment of most suburban areas is far less adaptable and flexible to change than in cities.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
pete-rock said:
The real question is how DC's (or any city's) suburbs will survive their exodus, as people choose to either move further out from the city, or closer in. The built environment of most suburban areas is far less adaptable and flexible to change than in cities.
Exactly my point: Especially since racial and ethnic diversity in the suburbs will make them less attractive to people who originally settled suburbia for "white flight" reasons. Heck, we get complaints all the time from our curmudgeon class that we are "allowing (my employer) to look like Mexico City"

Without safety or ethnic "purity," many suburbs have much less appeal. Vaughan may find the suburbs meeting his needs, and he lives in one of the better areas (Reston), but vinyl-plastic pseudo-Georgian houses, glass box office buildings by the freeway, and strip centers won't age very well-especially when the roadways and freeways are jammed with traffic. I don't see the flexibility to thrive in the future in mono-land use suburbia.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Here are some causes of exodus. I presume that reversing them would lead to an influx.

1. Bad schools.

2. Large areas of single purpose (usually financial or government office) in the downtown. Those areas are dead from 5-9 and on weekends. (There are areas of downtown L.A. where the Starbucks close on weekends). That's particularly true in large government centers. Sacramento has blocks and blocks of office cubes on nice tree lined streets with no one on foot.

3. A ring around the downtown that was once residential but later zoned commercial -- much larger than the demand for commercial space. That ring is usually a mix of deteriorating residential and desperate business. It also is a barrier between residential areas and downtown, so that residents won't walk downtown. (All entry into downtown is motorized.)

4. Not fun for pedestrians. Pedestrians should have something fun to look at (like store windows - even if they aren't interested in the product) every 25-50 feet. That's walking speeds. Parking lots, offices on first floor, pedestal skyscrapers, blank walls, hotel auto entrances, etc. are no fun for pedestrians.

5. Loss of variety. The traditional downtown had (within walking distance) shopping, housing, lodging, manufacturing, civic services,post office, other offices, eating, food markets, etc.
 

H

Cyburbian
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2,850
Points
24
valhallan said:
In 20 years, what big cities will still be charming and comfortable to live and work in? Why?
Miami. There is currently much res (condo/loft/apts) being built to complement the com. plus, it is on the bay and thus a much more attractive place to be than the inland suburbs (of which there are many housing large abount of res and com.

Plus it is a port city and this is located downtown, you cant really move that to the inland burbs :-S
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
I have to respectfully disagree valhallan. How long have you lived in the DC metro area? Young people are flocking back to DC proper and the inner ring suburbs. The new convention center area, Georgetown, Dupont, eastern market, cap hill are all areas thriving-many newly gentrified and reasonably affordable like eastern market. I have the sneaking feeling your still buying into the DC that existed under the former Crack head mayor. Many of the workshops at the APA Convention this week were on the astounding growth and changes to DC and the inner burbs. If it were not growing and improving why would home values be sky rocketing.

Admittedly city life and culture is not for all people and perhaps you like the burbs more and that's fine but don't dismiss others interests in the Kennedy Center, sports, concerts, museums, some of the best ethnic dining in the world and the list goes on and on. Not to mention its one of the best PLANNED cities in the world.

Cities like Boston, Philadelphia, SanFran, Seattle, Chicago and DC are all becoming mecas for young educated people with money to spend and a desire to live close to where they work in the cities.

Proud inner ring dweller.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
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25
PlannerGirl said:
...Young people are flocking back to DC proper and the inner ring suburbs. The new convention center area, Georgetown, Dupont, eastern market, cap hill are all areas thriving-many newly gentrified and reasonably affordable like eastern market. ...
What do DC area residents think of the Mayor's proposal to bring an additional 100,000 people into the city over the next 10 years? Is it realistic?
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
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6,377
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29
The logical part of me says no but seeing the plans for the new Anacostia water front, all the new high rise condo buildings going in around the MCI and new Conv center Im starting to think it just might be possible. Mayor Williams is doing his best to turn this boat around and looking at how the City has changed even in 2 years is staggering.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
Having visited DC last fall I was kind of surprised that someone would say that there is not a lot going on there and that high crime keeps them out of the City. I am an outsider but I have read that Crime is on the decline in DC. As for there not being much to do besides the museums and attractions, what kind of activities are you looking for? I think that must be a matter of taste. Walking around Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle I couldn't believe all of the stores, bars, and restaurants. It also seemed like they have all kinds of events on the Mall in the warmer months. After my visit I felt that DC was one of the best Cities I have visited. I would rank it up there with NYC, Boston, and Chicago. I think that having all the government activity adds an energy that many Cities wish they could replicate.

I think that Cities will survive by working to attract suburbanites to come downtown for the sports, nightlife, etc. They also need to provide more housing in areas that are attractive and near downtown. Milwaukee has done an amazing job filling the downtown and surrounding areas with very attractive housing options. This has resulted in an increase of 2000 housing units in just the past 5 years. This has helped open countless new bars, restaurants, and stores basically turning what was a ghost-town after 5pm into a place that is always bustling with activity.
 
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The One

Cyburbian
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8,289
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30
City Centers

Washington DC is a tough place to imagine living in.... Think about it... High cost of living, massive amount of government workers from the suburbs/exurbs (traffic), foreign workers (with major money) from all the embassy/govt. work (property values). The local university system is the only reason DC has any youth at all. Also, one of the hottest places on earth in July-August (weeks at a time of 100% humidity and 95-100 degree days with almost zero wind!!! By the way, if the mayor wants another 100,000 people, better be prepared to build up, not out.

Most major downtown residential redevelopment efforts are directed at those with major $$. Denver has done a nice job with the lofts and parks in the downtown area, but it is not a kid friendly area, not that anyone with a family could afford to live there anyway....

I think New Orleans is a perfect place for the next round of major downtown loft development. If I had any money, I would invest in that area. That warehouse district is so ready to take off in the residential direction!! Anyone from New Orleans out there wishing to comment on this issue?
 
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jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
valhallan said:
Here in the DC metro, most people can work and live outside the city with ease. Other than sightseeing and some mild nightlife, there's no real reason to go downtown, and there is definitely not much incentive to live in the city. From reading these boards, it sounds like this situation is developing in many big cities across the U.S. So I'm curious - what cities do you think can survive the exodus? In 20 years, what big cities will still be charming and comfortable to live and work in? Why?

My initial thought is Boston could survive mostly because how many universities it has and the youthful feel they give the city. Let me know what you think.
I doubt the federal government is going anywhere in a hurry, nor are the legions of bottomfeeding lobbyists that took up shop down the street so that might be one reason DC will survive.

Aside from that, $million condos don't bloom like cherry blossoms in cities that have nothing to offer or are on the decline. I had a friend who lived in Arlington and my dad recently moved to the Maryland suburbs from NYC. I know how far out both of them had to move to find rents they could afford.

They glory days of the suburbs have come and gone. A lot of people on here tend to think that mobility will be the thorn in the side of the suburbs from the traffic perspective. I think it's going to come from the cost of fuel. Time will tell.
 
Messages
124
Points
6
PlannerGirl said:
I have to respectfully disagree valhallan. How long have you lived in the DC metro area? Young people are flocking back to DC proper and the inner ring suburbs. The new convention center area, Georgetown, Dupont, eastern market, cap hill are all areas thriving-many newly gentrified and reasonably affordable like eastern market. I have the sneaking feeling your still buying into the DC that existed under the former Crack head mayor. Many of the workshops at the APA Convention this week were on the astounding growth and changes to DC and the inner burbs. If it were not growing and improving why would home values be sky rocketing.

Admittedly city life and culture is not for all people and perhaps you like the burbs more and that's fine but don't dismiss others interests in the Kennedy Center, sports, concerts, museums, some of the best ethnic dining in the world and the list goes on and on. Not to mention its one of the best PLANNED cities in the world.

Cities like Boston, Philadelphia, SanFran, Seattle, Chicago and DC are all becoming mecas for young educated people with money to spend and a desire to live close to where they work in the cities.

Proud inner ring dweller.
I've lived in the area for 12 years, which is half of my life, so I pretty much consider myself from Virginia. City life is very appealing to me, but something about DC just doesn't work. Yes, Georgetown and Adams Morgan are great but the people there just rub me the wrong way. It seems DC is overrun by people who aren't from here and only came to get that BMW and 6-figure job. I'm not much interested in spending $1500 a month for a crappy apartment surrounded by gold-digging transplants.

The ethnic diversity is great but where is DC's identity? Everyone lives in sects. Cities like New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, and SF are all known for having people with distinct attitudes. DC is a just a cluster with no character to me.

See I'm new to this game, and more a city enthusiast than planner. History, universities, professional sports, architecture, and waterfronts are what make a nice city to me. DC has OK history, OK universities, terrible sports, uninteresting achitecture, and a forced waterfront. All of that, on top of traffic congestion, ridiculous housing costs, and lack of identity, makes DC just not worth it to me. So yeah it's definitely personal preference.

Nice points, Pete and BKM. I completely see what you mean about suburban exodus. Reston is nice but it should follow suit with its neighbors, Herndon and Sterling, that seem to be declining in quality of life. It will be very interesting to see what this area is like in 20 years.
 

Elisabeth

Cyburbian
Messages
157
Points
7
valhallan said:
History, universities, professional sports, architecture, and waterfronts are what make a nice city to me. DC has OK history, OK universities, terrible sports, uninteresting achitecture, and a forced waterfront. All of that, on top of traffic congestion, ridiculous housing costs, and lack of identity, makes DC just not worth it to me. So yeah it's definitely personal preference.

Like Planner Girl, I'll have to respectufully disagree. I think, more than anything, you seem uncomfortable with the inherent affluence of neighborhoods like Georgetown and Adams Morgan because you said those spots "rub you the wrong way" with the Beemers and whatnot. But, really, what city doesn't have its wealthy neighborhoods? The upper east side in NYC or Murray Hill, or Beacon Hill in Boston, Chestnut Hill in Philly--you'll find neighborhoods and people like that wherever you go. As far as the gold-digging $1500 a month apartment dwellers, most urbanites (especially New Yorkers) would think $1500 a month is a deal.

Furthermore, aren't transplants to a city essentially an indicator of growth and an obvious interest in a city or region? I would think a higher number of transplants, whether they're moving for school, job, or another reason, would certainly be the catalyst for investment in an area. For example, the apartments and condos that have shot up where H St and Mass Ave. split, near the ramp for 395--the area between Union Station and the MCI Center has been, for the last couple years, somewhat vacant and certainly transitional/vulnerable. However, those apartments and condos are a blatant reflection of the need and want for housing within the District of Columbia. Better yet, they were built in an area that could have, potentially, become a part of the many struggling and socio-economically depressed neighborhoods in DC.

Having graduated from a university in DC, I certianly disagree on that point. Georgetown in the 8th most difficult school to get into, their law school is also very prestigious, Catholic (my alma mater) is one of the top five Catholic universities in the country. It has, again, one of the best schools of philosophy and nursing in the nation, and the school of architecture is one of the top ten on the east coast. GW is well known for their medical school--DC also boasts Gallaudet, the only deaf university in the country also.

The sports is debatable--the Wizards aren't a huge draw, the Caps seem to be drawing a large fan base, though. Terps and Gtown (needs some help) basketball is popular too.

I also think that the diversity of DC is its identity--it's truly a global city, more so than New York in many ways--especially because of all the embassies. I also think that while the architecture on a residential level is nothing too crazy (although the brownstones and row houses vary from those you see in New York or Philly) I think that on a municipal level, the architecture is reflective of that global identity. From the obvious differences in the Smithsonian buildings and the National Gallery, to the modernity of the Canadian embassy, the byzantine design of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as compared to the Gothic National Cathedral--DC is a lot of things, but certainly not mediocre in its architectural make up.

So DC might not have a strong regional "attitude" like you said places such as New York with their strong accents and tough fuggedaboutit guys, or Philly with their white sneaker NE Philly guys and cheesesteak Pat's vs. Geno's vs. Jim's (South Street) arguments. Honestly, I think that's what makes it such a great place--there are no cultural preconceptions and that makes the city very welcoming, in my opinion. And, as far as your other issues with DC city life, I'm sorry, but if you want to live in a city traffic congestion and high housing costs are usually a part of the game. Also, bear in mind, that DC is significantly smaller than all of the cities that you compared it to in regard to your identity qualm. One could argue that if DC were larger, there would be more difinitive neighborhoods instead of the block or two that constitutes Chinatown.
 
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Messages
124
Points
6
Elisabeth said:
Like Planner Girl, I'll have to respectufully disagree. I think, more than anything, you seem uncomfortable with the inherent affluence of neighborhoods like Georgetown and Adams Morgan because you said those spots "rub you the wrong way" with the Beemers and whatnot. But, really, what city doesn't have its wealthy neighborhoods? The upper east side in NYC or Murray Hill, or Beacon Hill in Boston, Chestnut Hill in Philly--you'll find neighborhoods and people like that wherever you go. As far as the gold-digging $1500 a month apartment dwellers, most urbanites (especially New Yorkers) would think $1500 a month is a deal.
Well the original question of city exodus has been answered adequately by all.

This debate over DC is purely personal preference. I'm looking at Washington as a metro area, not just the District. I was in a job search for almost a year and found that the only real non-government opportunities existed outside the beltway. So in my minimal understanding of "urban planning", that seems like some version of city exodus. That's why the question arose.

As far as the rich people goes, other than Southeast and PG County, just about everywhere in the metro area is affluent. My family and myself are not exceptions. I've found most people in this area to be thoroughly obsessed with who has the best job and who has the nicest car. I haven't seen that as much in places like Chicago, NYC, and Boston. People in those cities seem much happier and proud of where they live and eager to make it a better place, not just use it for the affluence it provides.

You could be right, DC may be on the up and up. But for sure the other cities mentioned are fun and charming while DC is extremely stressful and mildly entertaining at best. Going to school in a city and having a career there are two completely different beasts. You get the best as a student, but the absolute worst as a resident. So I'm sure your time in Washington was great, as any student's would be, but spend a few years in a cubicle around here and see if you feel the same.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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23
i think i get what you're saying - that DC lacks character in its denizens more than in its physical assets.

I just don't know if local moneygrubbers are any better than transplant moneygrubbers. NYC certainly has its fair share of transplants who are either out to make a buck or a name for themselves. In LA you have plenty of people who are trying to do both at the same time.

I agree though, I'd rather live in a place where i know i won't have different neighbors every 4 years.
 

teshadoh

Cyburbian
Messages
435
Points
13
City's Future Part Two

Well, to reinvigorate this topic - can a city survive without a growing - & even declining - commercial downtown? I take Atlanta as example, as Midtown is 'growing', it's growth is mostly coming from downtown firms leaving. Most commercial development is occuring in the suburbs & outer suburbs. Though there are institutional employers - colleges, city, county, state & federal jobs, several buildings are vacant.

But as that is taking place downtown is now - not just Midtown - celebrating a massive condo explossion. Numerous condo structures have been built, are being built, & one in particular - over 1000 condos in two 35 story rises are proposed. Besides the downtown growth, many of the intown residential neighborhoods are filling back up.

That said, can cities like Atlanta survive in the future as being - suburbs of the suburbs?
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
i've long held that the US is moving towards the European model where the central city is "the place" and holds about 25% to 40% of regional employment and the suburbs are blue collar and hold a lot of the small factory/warehouse/distribution jobs
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
jresta said:
i've long held that the US is moving towards the European model where the central city is "the place" and holds about 25% to 40% of regional employment and the suburbs are blue collar and hold a lot of the small factory/warehouse/distribution jobs
I concur...it may be hard to see through the sprawl but we are headed that way as suburbs get cheaper and cheaper and more and more (white collar) folks re-invest in city living. It is a little ways off yet, but that is where we are headed.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
Well Santiago is also catching the suburb fever.... the central municipalities (including the municipality of Santiago) are showing a negative population growth, up to -16.4% decent between 1992-2002, meanwhile some border municipalities show up to 207.7% growth in the same period!
They're trying to revitalize the downtown Santiago, though and I must say that I've seen some growth, but still not enough to compensate for all of the ones leaving. But at least, the downtown Santiago is not the municipality that's loosing the most of the population. (It's population variation was a -10.8% between 1992-2002)
It would be a shame that the Core of Santiago would end only as a bunch of historical buildings... Although walking near noon you can see lots of activity, because it's still the main CBD of Santiago, but there are a few more that are growing faster than the downtown.
 
Messages
37
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2
DC has character and other observations

valhallan said:
The ethnic diversity is great but where is DC's identity? Everyone lives in sects. Cities like New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, and SF are all known for having people with distinct attitudes. DC is a just a cluster with no character to me.

Nice points, Pete and BKM. I completely see what you mean about suburban exodus. Reston is nice but it should follow suit with its neighbors, Herndon and Sterling, that seem to be declining in quality of life. It will be very interesting to see what this area is like in 20 years.
DC does have character, although it's not as obvious as Boston or New York. I wrote about it at length in the Baltimore thread. It is culturally and historically a Southern city. How Southern it is will always be up for debate. DC's NPR affiliate aired a discussion about DC's Southern culture a few months ago. (How can you pick out a true native? Listen to the way they talk. For example, In DC, Maryland and Virginia many natives say /Warshingtn/.)

A number of previous posts addressed the lack of a vibrant commercial downtown in DC and the sprawling MD and VA suburbs. Here some of my observations:

There are two downtowns. The newer downtown is centered on K Street west of 16th Street NW. Within this area there is an upscale retail district on Connecticut Ave above K street. Stores have come and gone in this area. The old Raleigh's department store is gone but Burberry's opened its store in the 80s. The traditional downtown centers on F Street from 14th east to the old Hecht Co. department store building. The area declined after the 1968 riots, and since then DC has struggled to retain and attract significant retail in this neighborhood. DC is one of the few major US cities with only one downtown department store, the new Hecht's on G Street. It opened in 1985 but failed to become a catalyst for new retail development. The store was built as the new flagship store for the chain, but suburban locations like the large Tysons Corner store catered to a more upscale clientele and offered much more. (The downtown location is currently being remodeled.)

Ironically, the closure of the venerable Woodward & Lothrop department store in 1995 created the potential for a major redevelopment of F Street; H&M and other retailers are now flocking to the area. Department stores, however, still look exclusively to the suburbs for expansion. The retail "rebirth" of this section of downtown can be traced back to the late 90s when the MCI Center opended. The MCI Center became the retail catalyst that Hecht's and Woodies ceased to be in the 80s and 90s. I still lament the closing of the old Woodies. I remember school field trips to the store in the 90s--it had something like 8 floors and riding the escalators to the top floor was an adventure.

BKM wrote that suburban Washington is almost as bad as suburban Cali in terms of the built environment. I say the situation in suburban Washington is far worse. I was just in LA and most of its suburbs, while vast and interconnected, develop as towns as opposed to the large unincorporated areas surrounding Washington that allow for more haphazard development patterns. For example, the large suburban counties surrounding DC lack the basic infrastructure that most California suburbs take for granted: sidewalks, underground utilities, schools to which kids can safely walk, greenways, etc. In Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Murrieta, Brea, Chino Hills, South Bay, The Valley, and other LA suburbs I saw plenty of pedestrians walking to commercial areas, schools, parks, etc.

Suburban LA commercial development has traditionally oriented itself towards the street, although parking lot strip centers dominate today. In recnt years the trend here has been to focus development towards the street once again. Brea's new downtown is not a faux town/lifestyle center, but an actual downtown patrolled by the local police. New stores like Tower Records, movies, restaurants, and apartments are integrated within an existing neighborhood. Parks and schools are accessible by foot: the Brea skatepark is closeby and Brea Junior High is a couple of blocks away.

Suburban DC lacks the infrastructure of the Cali suburbs, and much of it is accessible only by car. This is why my assesment of DC's new suburbs is much grimmer than BKM's. The older inner suburbs are the exception: Arlington County and Alexandria in Northern Virginia and Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park in Montgomery County are a few good examples. These areas are experiencing a commercial rebirth akin to downtown DC's current renaissance. Clarendon, Arlington County's historic retail downtown, has seen an infusion of upsacle retailers in recent years after two decades of stagnation. The residential real estate market in these inner ring suburbs are similarly strong. In Arlington, the average price of a single family home is above $600,000. Unlike DC's outer suburbs, these older areas are pedestrian oriented and have character.

Concerning the public schools, Washington, DC area schools ranked second in the nation. (WTOP reported this statistic today.) In last year's Newsweek ranking of public high schools, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Montgomery County each had schools place in the top 100.

valhallan said:
Here in the DC metro, most people can work and live outside the city with ease. Other than sightseeing and some mild nightlife, there's no real reason to go downtown, and there is definitely not much incentive to live in the city.
Upper Northwest DC has a mix of stable upper middle class neighborhoods that many families call home. Cleveland Park, developed in the 1800s as an upscale streetcar suburb, is close to the historic Uptown Theater, shpos, restaurants, Rock Creek Park, the National Cathedral, and the National Zoo (which operates somewhat like a public park--it's free and you can just stroll into it). Nearby upscale residential neighborhoods include Wesley Heights, Spring Valley, and Chevy Case (DC side). Washington's finest homes are located in these neighborhoods. Shops, schools, and Metro rail are all within walking distance of most homes. The retail climate is healthy: Best Buy and The Container Store moved into the old Sears building in Tenleytown; Neimann Marcuss and Borders Books anchor the Freindship Heights neighborhood; and the restored Avalon Theater anchors the Chevy Chase commercial strip. The public schools in this part of town are very good. Many of my friends who attended DC public schools opted for private schools after Alice Deal Junior High, however. Wilson Senior High is the neighborhood school and it is generally good, but most of its students are bused from other parts of the city. So, in my view, there is much incentive to live in the city, and the residential real estate market in Upper NW DC has traditionally been the strongest in the metro area. The outer suburbs, of course, have more housing options for families of more modest means. So the middle class will not look to DC for affordable homes and excellent public schools, which abound in the outer suburbs.
 
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BKM

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rmulrew said:
Suburban DC lacks the infrastructure of the Cali suburbs, and much of it is accessible only by car. This is why my assesment of DC's new suburbs is much grimmer than BKM's. The older inner suburbs are the exception: Arlington County and Alexandria in Northern Virginia and Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park in Montgomery County are a few good examples. These areas are experiencing a commercial rebirth akin to downtown DC's current renaissance. Clarendon, Arlington County's historic retail downtown, has seen an infusion of upsacle retailers in recent years after two decades of stagnation. The residential real estate market in these inner ring suburbs are similarly strong. In Arlington, the average price of a single family home is above $600,000. Unlike DC's outer suburbs, these older areas are pedestrian oriented and have character.
.
OFF TOPIC NASTINESS:
Hey! We are only allowed to bash California, here :)

Actually, at least suburban DC has trees. To me (for places I've visited) the nadir of American suburbia is Denver. Ugh. Even if they have some sidewalks, 15 inches of rain, no trees or terrain (until you get into the mountains), endless grid of ugly houses that combine the bizarreness of California tracts with the stolid dullness of the midwestern tracts. Its strange, because the City of Denver can be very pleasant in so much of the city.
 

jordanb

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Messages
3,232
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25
I loved that picture from the last california fire with that cul-de-sac plowed into that eucalyptus forest. Every house was burnt down but the surrounding forest was untouched. :-D

EDIT: Found it:
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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23
Jordan B - that picture (while sad for the families) is hilarious. All of the houses melted yet the trees and lawns don't appear to be the least bit torched.

BKM said:
Actually, at least suburban DC has trees. To me (for places I've visited) the nadir of American suburbia is Denver. Ugh. Even if they have some sidewalks, 15 inches of rain, no trees or terrain (until you get into the mountains), endless grid of ugly houses that combine the bizarreness of California tracts with the stolid dullness of the midwestern tracts. Its strange, because the City of Denver can be very pleasant in so much of the city.
Just a few hours ago i was staring, awestruck, at a map of all the of the MSA's in the US. The Metropolitan areas are a dark green and the Micropolitan areas are a light green. The actual urbanized areas appear as a dark gray. A co-worker came up behind me and said "checking out the sprawl map? It's crazy isn't it." He was right, green covers more than all of the arable land in the country. He then pointed to Atlanta's gray area that covered a land area larger than Philadelphia and compared it to Phoenix (that recently overtook Philly in population). Phoenix covered less than half of Atlanta's area.

He then remarked that the sprawl looks worse out west because you can't hide it. There is no tree canopy to hide under but that when you're not connected to the water grid "you don't exist." So in the western case the leap-frog development famous in the southeast is cost-prohibitive in Arizona.

Interesting observations - i thought.
 
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The One

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8,289
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Trees Trees No Where Trees

BKM said:
OFF TOPIC NASTINESS:
Hey! We are only allowed to bash California, here :)

Actually, at least suburban DC has trees. To me (for places I've visited) the nadir of American suburbia is Denver. Ugh. Even if they have some sidewalks, 15 inches of rain, no trees or terrain (until you get into the mountains), endless grid of ugly houses that combine the bizarreness of California tracts with the stolid dullness of the midwestern tracts. Its strange, because the City of Denver can be very pleasant in so much of the city.

Such is the curse of the arid west for those who enjoy shade..... I think this is the single greatest reason architectural standards should be higher in the west.

I could say the same thing about South Florida with a severe lack of significant canopy in the urban areas (Due to frequent hurricanes and development that removes large stands of shade trees) Oh, and don't try to make me believe that "any" kind of palm tree can be considered anything but ornamental |-)
Remember: Palm Trees are "Above Ground Carrot's of the Tree World"
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
The One said:
Such is the curse of the arid west for those who enjoy shade..... I think this is the single greatest reason architectural standards should be higher in the west.
Ah, but the cynic in me says that western architectural standards are perfectly reflective of what we want/demand/can afford. What's important in the western suburban home? Square footage to impress the relatives and co-workers. Fancy internet wiring and media room. Huge garages for that Excursion or H2 and the workshop. And, all for cheaper than back in that socialist California subdivision where the commies and gays and Mexicans all hang out!! And, it has to be identical to every other house in its "product line" so that it can be easily sold when the corporation downsizes my job or transfers me. There ain't much room for "good design" at $159,999.

As for shopping: As long as it has a big parking lot, is close to the freeway so I can get there easily, and has cheap, cheap prices-I don't care!

Not much room for design standards.

(I am being somewhat tongue in cheek :) )
 

H

Cyburbian
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2,850
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24
The One said:
I could say the same thing about South Florida with a severe lack of significant canopy in the urban areas (Due to frequent hurricanes and development that removes large stands of shade trees) "[/B]
There seem to be an abundant amount of canopy and shade trees (Banyans) in the Miami area (both urban and suburban). They also seem to grow as fast as weeds. :)

Can you get developers to plant these where you are???

Here is a common street around the south side of the city:

 

sleepy

Cyburbian
Messages
42
Points
2
The One said:
I think New Orleans is a perfect place for the next round of major downtown loft development. If I had any money, I would invest in that area. That warehouse district is so ready to take off in the residential direction!! Anyone from New Orleans out there wishing to comment on this issue?
I lived in New Orleans twenty-five years, and the warehouse district began developing into residential in the early 80's. When I left there in 1997, it was pretty well gentrified/developed already.
 
Messages
37
Points
2
"Los Angeles Is Burning"

For all the punkers out there, the new Bad Religion song "Los Angeles Is Burning" was just released. The lyrics are posted below; BR is famous for the intelligent social commentary in its songs. Thought this might be interesting to some. The song does not paint a rosy picture of the hills around LA. But that's where the middle and upper classes live. LA suburbs continue to expand into the hillsides, while many valley towns languish. For example, downtown Ontario is dilapidated and largely devoid of activity while the towns further up Euclid Avenue in the foothils are quite prosperous. (I'll have to post a pic of Euclid Ave sometime. It's a beautiful tree lined boulevard that was planned in the 1800s)

Los Angeles Is Burning

somewhere high in the desert near a curtain of a blue
the sane man skirts under the wind
but down here in the city of the lime lights
the fans of santa ana are witherin'
and you can't deny that living is easy
if you never look behind the scenery
it's showtime for drag lines
and bedlam is dreamin' of rain

when the hills of los angeles are burnin'
palm trees are candles in the murder wind
so many lives on the breeze
even the stars are ill at ease
and los angeles is burnin'

this is not a test
of the emergency broadcast system
when malibu fires and radio towers
conspire to dance again
and I cannot believe the media Mecca
they're only trying to battle reality, catch it on prime time, story at nine
the whole world is goin' insane

when the hills of los angeles are burnin'
palm trees are candles in the murder wind
so many lives are on the breeze
even the stars are ill at ease
and los angeles is burnin'

a clock that reads
the end of days
shotgun roundabouts are bending in the haze

more a question than a curse
how could hell be any worse?

the flames are startin'
the cameras runnin'
so take warnin'
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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23
JordanB - can't post that map. It's hanging on a wall and it's slightly larger than my door. If someone in your GIS dept. can't hook it up it could be yours for only $27.99 (pre-paid) from http://www.census.gov/geo/www/mapGallery/




Bad Religion, 26 years and still going strong. At this point they must have an album full of suburban commentary. I remember when i first started listening to them in high school i found myself consulting the dictionary to decipher some of the lyrics. They wrote this one back in '79 -

*white trash, 2nd generation - http://www.maxlyrics.com/songView/17448

http://www.lyricstime.com/artist/bad-religion/#Process Of Belief
 

The One

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8,289
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Some good examples do exist....

H said:
There seem to be an abundant amount of canopy and shade trees (Banyans) in the Miami area (both urban and suburban). They also seem to grow as fast as weeds. :)

Can you get developers to plant these where you are???

Here is a common street around the south side of the city:


Your photo, while beautiful is hardly a "common" sight in the suburbs. Although, Palm Beach County/Boca has done a great job of landscaping coverage (shade) and granted, parts of Miami-Dade have as well, Broward and everything in between are hurting for shade (in general).
 

H

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Messages
2,850
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24
The One said:
Your photo, while beautiful is hardly a "common" sight in the suburbs.
I dont know why you say that, I drive around the south side suburbs regularly (Brickell, the Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest, the east part of Kendall, the Falls area, Palmetto Bay, etc...) and tree canopies seems pretty "common" to me, and yes it is beautiful. In fact the first thing people say when they come to visit is "WOW! there are so many trees!"

Some of this area was indeeed wiped with Andrew, but many spared and planted trees are already gowing back big and strong. US 1 is pretty bare as most highways are, but many local urban streets like Main in the Grove or Coral Way conecting Brickell to Coral Gables have a canopy. Sure in the new suburbs that were recently built on top of treeless farm land dont have a canopy (how could they?), but most have planted trees so one day they will.

I dont know Broward real well, so if you tell me there are no canopies in Broward County I will take your word on it and feel bad for ya'll, but you cant generalize South Florida this way. Although my cousin lives in Broward and has trees in his neighborhood. :)

We are disagreeing on a realative issues anyway, I guess we just have different opinions on the definition of "a lot" and "a little" and the word "common", and the word "suburb", and the term "tree canopy" and the term "South Florida", etc etc... :)
 
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jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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23
Here's a map of the Metro Statistical Areas. The map we have is both Metro and Micro so most of the thing is covered . . .and of course the urbanized areas are missing.

http://www.census.gov/geo/www/mapGallery/ma99_1117.pdf

My "problem" with that is once an area is designated either and has an MPO and federal money starts getting directed locally it's all over. After that the focus is on growth - "how can we attract more business", "how can we grow smarter", "we need an airport", "we need to widen our highway to encourage more trucking"

sorry, there's also this map that never gets old.


I like picking out the natural features like the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina or the Pine Barrens in South Jersey.
 
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jordanb

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3,232
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25
jresta said:
Here's a map of the Metro Statistical Areas. The map we have is both Metro and Micro so most of the thing is covered . . .and of course the urbanized areas are missing.
Thanks, But I'd seen that before. I was hoping for an urbanized areas map, which I've yet to see.
 

H

Cyburbian
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2,850
Points
24
jresta said:
I like picking out the natural features like the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina or the Pine Barrens in South Jersey.
Follow the mighty mississip and pick out the cities, that is fun also!
 

The One

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Messages
8,289
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30
Let's Agree

H said:
I dont know why you say that, I drive around the south side suburbs regularly (Brickell, the Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest, the east part of Kendall, the Falls area, Palmetto Bay, etc...) and tree canopies seems pretty "common" to me, and yes it is beautiful. In fact the first thing people say when they come to visit is "WOW! there are so many trees!"

Some of this area was indeeed wiped with Andrew, but many spared and planted trees are already gowing back big and strong. US 1 is pretty bare as most highways are, but many local urban streets like Main in the Grove or Coral Way conecting Brickell to Coral Gables have a canopy. Sure in the new suburbs that were recently built on top of treeless farm land dont have a canopy (how could they?), but most have planted trees so one day they will.

I dont know Broward real well, so if you tell me there are no canopies in Broward County I will take your word on it and feel bad for ya'll, but you cant generalize South Florida this way. Although my cousin lives in Broward and has trees in his neighborhood. :)

We are disagreeing on a realative issues anyway, I guess we just have different opinions on the definition of "a lot" and "a little" and the word "common", and the word "suburb", and the term "tree canopy" and the term "South Florida", etc etc... :)
Let's agree that trees are good, no trees are bad..... :-}
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
jordanb said:
Thanks, But I'd seen that before. I was hoping for an urbanized areas map, which I've yet to see.
yeah, like i said, it's on one of our walls so unless you or your GIS guy can hook it up it's 27.99 from the link above.
 

AubieTurtle

Cyburbian
Messages
894
Points
21
teshadoh said:
But as that is taking place downtown is now - not just Midtown - celebrating a massive condo explossion. Numerous condo structures have been built, are being built, & one in particular - over 1000 condos in two 35 story rises are proposed. Besides the downtown growth, many of the intown residential neighborhoods are filling back up.
You're thinking of the Novare condos at the Civic Center MARTA station. It will also have a hotel as part of the project. To me the biggest thing is that it is next to MARTA. As more development happens around MARTA stations, it makes them more attractive destinations. There is a map of all the developments coming to downtown's Centennial Hill neighborhood at http://www.centennialhill.org. A few years ago this area was just acre after acre of vacant lots and surface parking ($1/day if that tells you anything). I think Atlanta's sprawl is starting to collapse upon itself. Because of the immense scale, the fall will be hard and fast.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
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24
AubieTurtle said:
I think Atlanta's sprawl is starting to collapse upon itself.
Please elaborate on what it is you mean by this.

The One said:
Let's agree that trees are good, no trees are bad..... :-}
Agreed! :)
 
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Messages
101
Points
6
teshadoh said:
Well, to reinvigorate this topic - can a city survive without a growing - & even declining - commercial downtown? I take Atlanta as example, as Midtown is 'growing', it's growth is mostly coming from downtown firms leaving. Most commercial development is occuring in the suburbs & outer suburbs. Though there are institutional employers - colleges, city, county, state & federal jobs, several buildings are vacant.

But as that is taking place downtown is now - not just Midtown - celebrating a massive condo explossion. Numerous condo structures have been built, are being built, & one in particular - over 1000 condos in two 35 story rises are proposed. Besides the downtown growth, many of the intown residential neighborhoods are filling back up.

That said, can cities like Atlanta survive in the future as being - suburbs of the suburbs?
I've managed to lead a very rich life in Atlanta for the past 52 years by largely confining my activities to the intown areas and only venturing into the suburbs as needed. In fact I stuck out my childhood neighborhoods in southeast Atlanta (Grant Park and East Atlanta) through the time they were considered irredeemable
slums (in the 70's and 80s) into their current guise as "hot urban neighborhoods".

In some ways Atlanta has never been as bad as its reputation, but as one leaves the intown areas its worse. I've posted some on the development you're talking about in an article on Jim Borders and the Novare group at

http://larryfeltonjohnson.typepad.com/atlantalarry/2004/04/jim_borders_and.html

If you browse my archives and albums you'll find more articles and photos on the current boom in Atlanta than you ever wanted to encounter.

Larry
 
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